How do courts verify parental alienation allegations?

Griffin Law, PLLC
Jan 30, 2024

When making child custody arrangements, courts often serve as advocates of the involved child, especially if there are circumstances that can affect their emotional and mental health. Some cases can be high-risk, stemming from a parent harboring ill feelings or hostility toward the other party. When the court finds reason to believe that parental alienation is happening, it can order necessary steps to learn more about it and address it adequately.

Verifying allegations of parental alienation may begin with conducting necessary investigations. During this step, a qualified evaluator will take note of signs that may confirm the presence of alienation, including the following:

  • Unusual behavior from the child, showing severe hatred or hostility against the targeted parent
  • Language used by the child that sounds like words of the alienating parent
  • The child’s refusals to visits with the targeted parent
  • Non-existence of incidents instigating the child’s behavior and reactions toward the targeted parent
  • Tendency of the child to use others’ opinions as a basis for supporting their emotional responses

Sometimes, the symptoms can be subtle. The child could appear healthy and normal but may suddenly show severe hostility when bringing up the targeted parent. This form of alienation can lead to emotional abuse, resulting in long-term effects on the child.

How can courts address parental alienation?

Each state has specific guidelines when addressing parental alienation, causing variations in remedy options. Sometimes, they can bring about criminal or civil penalties based on the situation. Other times, the judge can adjust the custody arrangement to protect the child’s welfare. They could change visitation setups and order therapy if needed.

The court’s top priorities are to secure the child and make appropriate arrangements that consider both parents’ rights. Making these decisions might be challenging, but the law provides guidance that could help create a fair and reasonable setup.

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